Triumph of the Nerds

Every Sunday morning I am blogging about the history of technology. As our third entry, here is my overview of the 1996 documentary Triumph of the Nerds.

Triumph of the Nerds is a 1996 documentary written and hosted by Robert X. Cringely (born Mark Stephens). The basis for the documentary is Cringely’s book Accidental Empires, which covers the history of the personal computer industry. Triumph of the Nerds was produced in a three part series and aired in December of 1996 on PBS in the US (Channel 4 in the UK).

Back in 1996 I was in eighth grade enjoying my Packard Bell PC running Windows 95, a hefty upgrade from my old 1980s Macintosh. I was just learning to program in Pascal and I even had my own AOL homepage, a braggable feat at the time. I remember watching Triumph of the Nerds at the time of release and being quite fascinated. I had grown up with computers but Triumph of the Nerds was my first introduction to the history of the industry. In the end it was one of many things that ended up pushing me into further Computer Science education and eventually a career in technology.

Triumph of the Nerds covers it all: Intel, the Altair, Microsoft, The Homebrew Computer Club, Apple, VisiCalc – and that’s just part one! Like, I find myself revisiting Triumph of the Nerds every few years. In some ways it is very dated (Excite@Home anyone?) but overall it is still quite entertaining. Check it out.

Robert X. Cringely still actively covers the technology industry – you can read his blog and follow him on Twitter.